Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a dynamic cosmopolitan city that combines both modern and historic elements. Wander the cobblestone streets of the charming main square and admire the architecture and décor, or visit one of the many museums in Brussels and learn about everything from European art and Belgian beer to comic strips and musical instruments. When you start to get hungry, join the locals at one of the city’s many restaurants for world-class cuisine accompanied by more Belgian beer.
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The central square in Brussels, the Grand Place, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a highly celebrated, popular attraction for visitors. One of Europe's most spectacular city squares, the Grand Place features baroque and gothic architecture, cobblestone streets, numerous museums, cafes, shops and a number of statues—including the famous Mannekin Pis. Stroll through the square and admire the unique and detailed decor of the old guild houses. Visit one of the Grand Place's most beautiful buildings, the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). Built in the early 15th century, the Town Hall is a prime example of gothic architecture with arched windows, gargoyles and other statues. Opposite the Town Hall is the Maison du Roi (King's House), which hosts a museum showcasing the art and history of Brussels.
Probably the most famous museum in Brussels is the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, which houses both the Musée d'Art Ancien and the Musée d'Art Moderne under one roof. The museum has a collection of more than 20,000 drawings, paintings and sculpture from the 15th century through modern times, including an extensive collection of Flemish art. Other museums in Brussels worth a visit include the Musée des Instruments de Musique, where you can view and listen to more than 1500 instruments from around the world. The Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art celebrates the Belgian love affair with comic strips. To learn more about Belgian beer, you can visit the Belgian Brewers Museum in the Grand Place, which hosts exhibits about traditional and modern beer brewing techniques. The Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat (Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate), also in the Grand Place, is the ideal museum for curious chocoholics.
Food and drink
If you like good food, Brussels is the perfect destination for you. The food in Brussels rivals that of other European culinary meccas. Local specialties include seafood (especially mussels), french fries (frites), sausages and of course chocolates. Brussels is also filled with restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. While you're enjoying your meal, make sure to have one - or a few - Belgian beers with your food. Locals are equally as passionate about their beer as they are about their food. There are hundreds of different brands of beer to try and chefs from Belgium often incorporate beer into their dishes.
What's up in Brussels
Okay, okay, this is very touristy, but it's ever so pretty: De grote markt.
If you like design and the 50s, Atomium is the place to go.
Hoet is the name for design stuff in Belgium. Go and check it out!
Crew tip Ixelles
A fantastic area, well worth a visit if you want to distance yourself from the more obvious parts of Brussels. It's only a short hop from the center, but it feels like a million miles away. Wander its narrow and crowded streets and treat yourself to a bit in one of the many African and Asian restaurants that populate the area. / Rob, editor, Crew Guide
Passenger tip À la morte subite
À la morte subite (or "sudden death" in English) is one of the traditional watering holes, a bit off Grand Place. Inside, you will find friendly service, decent prices (did I mention it was off Grand Place?) and the original 1928 Art Deco interior. Sample some of the numerous Belgian beers - and don't forget the house brand: À la mort Subite. I did - and I'm still alive. / Christian
Passenger tip Manneken Pis
Corner of Rue de l'Étuve and Rue du Chêne
New York has the Statue of Liberty, Copenhagen has the mermaid and Brussels has the Manneken Pis. The statue of a little boy in a somewhat compromising position has been a major tourist attraction in the city for several centuries. / Wim